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This modules discusses how the idea for the Speak N Spell was created by Paul Breedlove. It ends with finally gaining funding to produce the first demonstration of the product idea.


Paul Breedlove had the idea to create a product that would help children to spell, just as the Little Professor™ Learning aid (1) had done for math. Figure 1 shows a Little Professor, TI's first attempt at moving away from the classical concept of a calculator to a product that would help students learn the concepts of math. Unlike spelling, a math problem can be stated using written words. Or, in the case of the Little Professor, present the math problem minus the solution. The user could then enter the solution to the problem, with three tries at answering, before the correct answer was displayed moving on to the next formula. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in four different levels of difficulty were taught. It is worth noting here that several years later we created a talking math product called Speak N Math™(2), see Figure 2.

For the Little Professor the problems and responses were presented using an LED display. In the case of spelling an LED display wouldn't work, the product would need to speak the word to be spelled and then allow the child to enter the spelling of the word. If the spelling was correct the next word would be introduced, if incorrect, the child would be told that it was wrong and allowed to try again. If the response was still incorrect a third time the word would be spelled correctly before moving on to the next word.

The Little Professor learning aid from Texas instruments circa 1976.
The Speak n Math learning aid from Texas Instruments, circa 1980.

There was another interesting concept being developed at TI called “Bubble Memories”. The idea was to store data using magnetic technology to create magnetic bubbles. Bubbles were created and then moved around a designated path using a magnetic field. As they came around the track, they could be read, destroyed or created. The benefit of magnetic bubbles was that they remained stable when the magnetic field was turned off. It was a new concept of a non-volatile memory. Other that the technical difficulties, there was one major issue – what could be done with these memories that couldn’t already be done? That is, what was the killer application that would drive the development. It was a technology looking for a problem to solve.

With this as a background, here is how the idea for the Speak N Spell evolved.

Evolving the idea

When it became apparent that the Little Professor math learning aid was going to be a success, a brainstorming session was called among many people in the corporation, including Jim Moore leader of the consumer calculator design team. Among the possibilities was a spelling learning aid. Other people in the session were looking for killer application(s) for another interesting concept being developed at TI called “Bubble Memories”. They thought it could be a good technology for the non-volatile memory needed to store the spelling lists in such a learning aid. As they continued to brainstorm about the spelling learning aid they came upon a stumbling block; how should the word to be spelled be presented? Several possibilities were discussed, but a suitable solution was not identified.

Questions & Answers

can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
I got X =-6
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
oops. ignore that.
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
im all ears I need to learn
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what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks.
Kevin Reply
a perfect square v²+2v+_
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Abdirahman Reply
algebra 2 Inequalities:If equation 2 = 0 it is an open set?
Kim Reply
or infinite solutions?
The answer is neither. The function, 2 = 0 cannot exist. Hence, the function is undefined.
Embra Reply
if |A| not equal to 0 and order of A is n prove that adj (adj A = |A|
Nancy Reply
rolling four fair dice and getting an even number an all four dice
ramon Reply
Kristine 2*2*2=8
Bridget Reply
Differences Between Laspeyres and Paasche Indices
Emedobi Reply
No. 7x -4y is simplified from 4x + (3y + 3x) -7y
Mary Reply
is it 3×y ?
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J, combine like terms 7x-4y
Bridget Reply
im not good at math so would this help me
Rachael Reply
I'm not good at math so would you help me
what is the problem that i will help you to self with?
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
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Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
bamidele Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, The speak n spell. OpenStax CNX. Jan 31, 2014 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11501/1.5
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